Today’s interview is with authors, Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt. They are father and daughter, but they are also co-authors of the children’s book, Monkey Made Dream.
Tom wrote Monkey Made Dream with his daughter, Heather, when she was eight years old. A farmer from southwest Minnesota, he is also a singer/songwriter. Listul made Monkey Made Dream into a children's song and has sang it at numerous coffee houses and children's classrooms.
Hewitt is now a school speech-language pathologist, who works with students of all ages. She enjoys helping children develop literacy skills and a love for reading.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Tom: I was born and raised in southwestern MN. I am a farmer by trade, but have also been a musician all of my life. I started writing songs around the age of 15 and have had some songs published in the past. Our book, Monkey Made Dream, came from a song that my daughter and I wrote when she was about 8 years old. I saved the song and developed it into a children’s book. My daughter got married this summer, so I gave it to her as a present for Christmas.
Heather: I’m the daughter, and I was thrilled to see a finished copy of Monkey Made Dream! Writing the book with my dad is a great memory for me. I am a school speech-language pathologist, and I work with students of all ages. I love reading and writing, and I enjoy sharing my excitement with my students.
Could you describe your desk/workspace?
Tom: I have a music studio where I can get away and spend time working on different things. My desk is crammed with a lot of projects that I’m working on. When I am writing I try to keep my focus so I might clear an area just so I am not distracted by anything. Lately, I grab my laptop and go somewhere.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Tom: I don’t remember from where or who from, but I just remember two that I like – 'the glass is half full' and 'treat people as you would want to be treated.' So, I try to remember that throughout this process called life.
Heather: I like the Bible verse from Jeremiah 29: “For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
Tom: Musically, I would love to have coffee with Paul McCartney. I would like to hear what process the Beatles used to create such a great body of songs. I also like history, so I think having coffee with George Washington – Abraham Lincoln would be fantastic.
Heather: I would like to talk to Oprah Winfrey and hear her story in person.
What are your top three favorite books and why?
Tom: I like history so – Lewis and Clark Expedition – Life of John Lennon – Eric Clapton
Heather: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - I really enjoyed the story in high school. Where is the Mango Princess? by Cathy Crimmins - A great story about a person surviving a traumatic brain injury. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – Neat story, that is really well written.
What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Tom: I was a big Hardy Boys fan.
Heather: I enjoyed Jan Brett books when I was younger, because of the illustrations and creative stories.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Tom: Sometimes I write in strange places, - on a tractor, at a meeting, on a combine during harvest.
Heather: I have not been able to write as much as I would have liked the past few year, because I was working on my Master’s degree, but I have to read what I write aloud to myself a few times so I can decide if I like it.
What are your current marketing strategies for Monkey Made Dream?
Tom: We self published our book because we wanted to have a say in how things should proceed. As of now, our book is on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Book World, Trafford Publishing and other web sites. Facebook is playing a role in getting our story out to the public. World of Ink Tour has been an outlet for showcasing our book with positive reviews. On the local level, we are having a book signing day in two local towns. We have had local advertising in our newspaper and we will be placing Monkey Made Dream in stores in the surrounding area.
Could you share about any current writing projects?
Tom: I have songs that are being pitched to artists and record companies. I am also coming up with new ideas for another children’s book.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Tom: This is a new experience for us, so I don’t feel qualified to give advice. All I know is that writing has become an outlet for me. I think that putting down an idea on paper and watching it take on its own identity is something special. Now I am beginning to understand why there are so many books in the book store.
Heather: Enjoy the writing process!
I'd like to thank you both for a great interview!
I'd like to thank you both for a great interview!